The application of a Dutch consensus diagnostic strategy for pulmonary embolism in clinical practice

Neth J Med. 2001 Oct;59(4):161-9. doi: 10.1016/s0300-2977(01)00154-1.


In The Netherlands, the 'Dutch consensus strategy' was formulated in 1993 as a diagnostic strategy for patients with suspected pulmonary embolism. Four years after its introduction, the application of this strategy was investigated. A questionnaire was sent to the hospital management and the departments of internal medicine and pulmonology of all Dutch hospitals. In total, 384 questionnaires were sent out. The response rates of the internists and pulmonologists were 63 and 65%, respectively. The specialists reported to have followed the consensus strategy in 75% of the patients seen the month prior to the questionnaire. However, analysis of only the last patient with the suspicion of pulmonary embolism revealed that the consensus strategy was followed in 55 of the 162 patients. As well, an overuse and an underuse of the different diagnostic facilities was documented. Furthermore almost a quarter of the patients were treated without an ascertained diagnosis, whereas 11% were not treated despite an improper exclusion of venous thrombo-embolism. Compared to a survey in 1994, the use of the 'Dutch consensus strategy' has not improved dramatically. In 34% of the patients, the consensus strategy was strictly followed (i.e. without any additional investigation); however in 67% of the patients a proper diagnosis was achieved. In any diagnostic strategy, two aspects should be considered. First the availability of the different facilities. Second the acceptance of the strategy by the physicians, involved in the diagnosis of patients with clinically suspected pulmonary embolism.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Angiography
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence
  • Consensus Development Conferences as Topic*
  • Decision Trees
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Misuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospital Departments / standards*
  • Hospital Departments / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education
  • Internal Medicine / standards*
  • Netherlands
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / therapy
  • Pulmonary Medicine / education
  • Pulmonary Medicine / standards*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ultrasonography
  • Ventilation-Perfusion Ratio